- That VMWare is flatly refusing to comply with the GPL and the Software Freedom Conservancy has felt compelled, after years of trying to work with them, to sue them. I am becoming a member of the SFC as of right now.
- That freedoms are continually eroded, and every expansion of freedom leads to new attempts to subvert it, often very subtly.
- The fact that most hardware systems are making it very difficult to run free software.
- I learned of software systems I had not known of before:
- eleg.io, a system for automatically finding the provenance of images: http://elog.io
- Tahoe-lafs, a distributed file system: https://www.tahoe-lafs.org/trac/tahoe-lafs
- Scala, apparently an emerging winner of functional languages: http://www.scala-lang.org
- A secure social network (doesn't look ready for prime time): http://pump.io
- TOR, secure browsing: https://www.torproject.org
- PublicLaboratory, Do-it-yourself science with an environmental focus: http://publiclab.org
Mostly, I was reminded the precious gift that Free Software has given the world. Without the GPL, there would be no Linux. The would be no Wikipedia. No Android OS. Probably no Mac OS either. All of us benefit from the the work of the Free Software Foundation, whether we know it or not and whether we contribute back or not.
And I would like to see even more next year. Here are some things that I would like to participate in next year. I believe if these could be organized alongside the typical tracks it would make the conference far more life-altering.
- Hack parties. Perhaps these were going on, and I just didn't get invited. But I believe organized, or at least, seeded, or suggested, work parties, would allow participates to have the pleasure of more strenuous stimulation and deeper social interaction.
- Activism exercises. We could, for example, have a one-hour session specifically to inform people about the Software Freedom Conservancy and their action to defend the GPL by bring VMWare into compliance.
- Crypto parties. I don't know much about practical cryptography, and I care less about it than a lot of people. But I want to learn. This would be a great place to invite outsiders and the media.
- A "Learn about Licensing" practical session. This could also be opened to the public. I believe this could be combined with a campaign to get GitHub users to use, or switch to, or "fork into" free licenses instead of merely permissive licenses.